“I’m sorry Mum” were the first words that Jessica, then aged 16, said when she found out she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). Having seen her mum’s cousin go through the agony of losing her young son to cancer a few years before, Jessica was upset to think she was going to put her parents through the same ordeal.

Over the last two years, since the diagnosis, Jessica from Chingford has mainly remained stoic in her outlook. She has had to deal with the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and is often confined to a wheelchair due to a hip problem that has been worsened by the treatment.

Jessica has effectively had to put her life on hold. At a time where teenagers her age are enjoying the summer holidays, learning to drive and applying for university, Jessica spends most of her time indoors on her own as she is worried about catching an infection.

This is one of the reasons why she suggested to Haven House Specialist Children’s Outreach Nurse, Katie Lewis, that the hospice formed a Teenage Cancer Group. Jessica has now been attending the monthly group for nearly a year and really enjoys her time there.

She said:

The group is a safe place where you can relax and have fun with other teenagers who are going through the same sort of challenges.

Spending time at Haven House has changed Jessica’s perception of a children’s hospice.

She said:

Haven House is a bright place with big gardens. If you think of a ‘hospice’, you think of just a ward with beds, but it’s not like that at all. 

Jessica wants other young people who have been diagnosed with cancer to know they can still have fun too. She said:

I think it comes down to your friends really. If they still include you then obviously, you can still have fun. Life might be a bit different, but you will still be you.

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